M. Nzadi Keita

2017 PEW FELLOW
Updated
9 Jun 2017

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M. Nzadi Keita. Photo by J. Otis Smith.

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M. Nzadi Keita, Brief Evidence of Heaven, 2014, Whirlwind Press.

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M. Nzadi Keita, Brief Evidence of Heaven, 2014, Whirlwind Press.

“I write to give witness from my intersectional worldview and testimony about what I see, feel, theorize, and wonder from this vantage point.”

M. Nzadi Keita’s poetry weaves intricate narratives with historical research and vivid imagery in both lyrical and prose forms. She describes her work as “photographic writing” and says, “In poems, I’m particular about voice as a vessel to offer…images to the reader…in the way photographers use light and composition: to startle, shade, shimmer, or flash.” In her most recent book of persona poems, Brief Evidence of Heaven: Poems from the Life of Anna Murray Douglass (2014), Keita imagines the life of Douglass, an abolitionist and first wife of Frederick Douglass. Her work is included in several anthologies, including Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Beyond the Frontier: African-American Poetry for the 21st Century, and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, as well as in journals such as MELUS, Poet Lore, and the Crab Orchard Review. Keita has received grants and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Ursinus College, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Leeway Foundation, among others. An associate professor of English at Ursinus College, Keita holds a PhD in English/American literature from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MA in creative writing from Vermont College.